Thursday: Achieving Unity
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Image © Steve Creitz from GoodSalt.com

The closer we come to Jesus, the closer we come to one another. We see with new spiritual eyesight.

Image © Steve Creitz from GoodSalt.com

The Spirit of Christ enables us to view one another differently. The little things that once bothered us are reframed by the grace of Christ. Cherished hostilities are relinquished in the light of His magnificent grace. Old scores and disputes are, as much as possible, set aside. Barriers are broken down. The gospel heals broken relationships.

When [...]

Wednesday: Church Organization: The Structure for Unity
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Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

The New Testament reveals that the early church had a definite organizational structure.

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

This structure helped to preserve the doctrinal purity of the church and keep it focused on mission.

In Acts 6, a small group of disciples met together to solve the problem of the distribution of food to the widows of the Greek converts. They selected deacons to solve the dilemma. Church members respected the authority of these church leaders.

When the apostle Paul was converted [...]

Tuesday: Elements of Unity: Our Mission and Message
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Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

The unity experienced by the New Testament believers was based on far more than emotional warmth between members.

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

Read Acts 1:8, 4:33, 5:42, 9:31, and 28:28-31. What was the all-consuming passion of the New Testament church? How did this passion unite them?

The disciples were consumed with something much larger than themselves. Christ’s commission to take the gospel to the entire world swallowed up their personal ambitions. The church cannot reach the community with the gospel until it is united, but [...]

Monday: New Testament Illustrations of Unity
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Image © Michael Agliolo from GoodSalt.com

The New Testament world of the first century was divided by caste, social status, and gender.

Image © Michael Agliolo from GoodSalt.com

It was a society in social turmoil. The concepts of equal rights, freedom, and human dignity were not the accepted norms.

Then Christianity burst upon the scene. It created a social revolution. Jesus’ teachings of equality, justice, concern for the poor, and respect for the marginalized appeared radical. At the same time, New Testament believers united around the core values [...]

Sunday: Answering Christ’s Prayer for Unity
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Image © Rolf Jansson from GoodSalt.com

John 17 contains Jesus’ great intercessory prayer. It reveals what was on His mind at that momentous hour of earth’s history.

Image © Rolf Jansson from GoodSalt.com

Read John 17:9-11, 20-24. What was Jesus’ heartfelt longing? Why was this so important? How did the disciples’ relationship to one another demonstrate genuine Christian faith? See Acts 4:32-33.

The “oneness,” or unity, of the disciples prepared their hearts for the reception of the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s power. Christ’s prayer for His church was fulfilled. They surrendered [...]

Sabbath: Unity: The Bond of Revival
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Read for This Week’s Study: John 17:9-11, 20-24; 1 Cor. 12:12-18; Acts 4:32-33, 1:8, 15:1-31; Matt. 18:16-20.

Memory Text: “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3, NKJV).

Unity is an essential ingredient of revival. Conflict, division, and strife do not create an environment for nurturing revival. [...]

Further Study: Confession and Repentance: The Conditions of Revival
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“Confession will not be acceptable to God without sincere repentance and reformation. There must be decided changes in the life; everything offensive to God must be put away. This will be the result of genuine sorrow for sin. The work that we have to do on our part is plainly set before us: ‘Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve [...]

Inside Story: The Newspaper Ad
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Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

Alexei scanned the classified ads of his local newspaper in Siberia, Russia.

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

He wanted to be sure that his ad for home improvements was attractive and his prices competitive. His eyes fell on the religious section of classified ads. The ads there offered to tell people’s fortunes or read their palms. So many ads for Satan, and not one for Christ, Alexei thought. He grabbed a paper and scribbled the words, “I will tell you about [...]

Thursday: Confession’s Healing Power
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Image © Janet Hyun from GoodSalt.com

Confession lances the boil of guilt and allows the poisonous pus of sin to drain. Confession is healing in many ways.

Image © Janet Hyun from GoodSalt.com

It opens our hearts to receive God’s grace. Through confession we accept the forgiveness that Christ freely offers us from the Cross. Confession is healing because it allows us to receive grace. Confession also breaks down barriers between us and other people. It heals relationships.

Read Psalm 32:1-8. What does this teach us about confession and [...]

Wednesday: True and False Repentance Contrasted
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Image © Providence Collection from GoodSalt.com

There are some very specific examples in the Bible of people who sought repentance but were not forgiven by God. They wept.

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They were sorrowful. They confessed their sin but were not forgiven.

Read the accounts of Pharaoh, Balaam, Esau, and Judas in Exodus 12:29-32, Numbers 22:32-35, Hebrews 12:17, and Matthew 27:4. What common thread do you see running through each story in regard to repentance and/or confession?

One phrase in Hebrews 12:17, NKJV , sums it up well. Speaking of Esau, the passage says [...]